PSIA students have the option of undertaking a Master thesis, in lieu of an internship or a semester exchange at a partner university. Sciences Po Academic rules in Article 37 specify that Master curricula include “a semester of extramural activities” and “as applicable…a Master thesis.”
This is a selective track offered to PSIA students, who must apply for the opportunity. Only the strongest proposals are approved by PSIA's scientific community. Every year, this track produces highly relevant and successful research work. Since 2021, the best Master thesis defended at PSIA have been published online by Sciences Po digital library.
PSIA Master thesis’ Regulations:
Course consistency: undertaking a Master thesis is optional and the approval of the Academic Advisor is necessary.
Individuality: The Master thesis is an individual research project, it cannot be done in a group ;
Thesis Director: The research project is conducted under the direction of a faculty specialist in the same subject area. Please note that Sciences Po faculty will be preferred. The academic advisor approves the choice;
Prerequisites: Students interested in pursuing a Master thesis must enrol in and validate two courses within the “Methods” concentration during the first year of their Master program;
The Master thesis track is open only to students who must register for a third semester "hors les murs", as per the Sciences Po regulation. Students who are enrolled in a one-year Master program, as well as dual degree students who spend only their first year at PSIA, are waived from this obligation, and they are not eligible for the Master thesis track.
The thesis defence will constitute both the validation of the Master thesis as well as the required Grand Oral.
The Master thesis Track is mainly directed at students with previous work experience presumably waiving the internship requirement, or students aiming for a PhD / academic career.
Proposal Documents (to be sent to the Academic Advisor):
Cover letter (students must indicate the two methods coruses they have taken at PSIA, or describe methods courses and any research internships undertaken prior to PSIA, attaching transcripts of any previous methodology coursework from another institution).
Research proposal (5 pages, single-spaced, Times New Roman 12, not including bibliography). Students may want to include the following sections: literature review; research question; proposed research design; information about empirical data and/or modalities of fieldwork if relevant. See a template for your reference.
Reference letter from the potential Thesis Director
Transcript of the first semester at PSIA, and a list of courses they are enrolled in for the second semester.
Fieldwork: When required, field research may be undertaken within the third semester.
Exemptions: Students producing a Master thesis may receive exemptions from:
- The mandatory 14-week internship.
Thesis: The Master thesis length is between 20,000 and 30,000 words, excluding appendices. Electronic versions of the thesis must be sent to the thesis' supervisor, the academic advisor, the third member of the jury and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Format of Thesis: Overview
Jury: The defence jury is composed of three members approved by PSIA and must include:
The Thesis Director
An Expert in the field of research (professional or scholar)
A faculty or administrative officer representative of the student’s Master (in charge of reporting)
At least one member of the defence jury should be a university professor or researcher
Thesis Defence: consists of two parts: a 10 minute presentation then a 20 minute discussion with the examiners
Validation: The validation of the Master thesis will bear 30 credits.
Master Thesis Calendar:
- First Year at PSIA – class of 2024:
- To be eligible to undertake a Master thesis during their third semester, students must take and validate two courses within the “Methods” concentration by the end of their first year – ideally one in semester 1 and one in semester 2. Students who wrote a thesis or long research essay (minimum 10,000 words) during their undergraduate studies may apply for a waiver of one of the two mandatory methods courses.
- March 15, 2023: Submission of full written proposal to their Academic Advisor by 2 pm.
- Late April 2023: Confirmation if they have been accepted onto the Master thesis Track for the third semester by their Academic Advisor. In all cases, progression to the third semester is subject to successful completion of the first year.
- September-December 2022: Third semester (Off campus; 'hors les murs');
- January 31, 2023: Master thesis submission deadline: electronic version to be sent to email@example.com, academic advisor, thesis supervisor and third member of the jury.
- Mid-April – May 2023: Master thesis Defence